DETROIT (WWJ) – Would a city-run lottery in Detroit solve the city’s financial problems? One state lawmaker thinks so.
WWJ’s Vickie Thomas reports that state Rep. Dr. Jimmy Womack, D-Detroit, is drafting legislation to start a “Detroit only” lottery. He plans to meet with the state lottery commission next week.
The idea is the brainchild of Councilman Kwame Kenyatta, and it comes in the midst of a Detroit financial crisis that has created the threat of massive layoffs, service cuts, and even potential insolvency.
“I believe it’s going to be a political challenge. I’m up for the task,” said Womack about a city lottery. “When we explore opportunities to revitalize municipalities, we have to take into consideration that often times you’re unable to cut your way out of a deficit and you have to generate income and revenue.”
The Detroit Democrat said he doesn’t believe recent claims that the whole idea would rob money from schools, which receive funds from the state lottery. The state lottery, instituted by a public vote in 1972, has collected about $45 billion, with $15 billion of that going to schools throughout Michigan, other parts going to retailers and the rest paid out through winnings, Womack told 1270 Talk Radio’s Charlie Langton. It’s too early to know how much a Detroit lottery could potentially collect.
“They may in fact say that, but I’m not so sure that we get significant dollars from the lottery for schools. I’ve served on the school board, as you know, and I am a member of the House of Representatives and there are dollars that go there, but I don’t believe that they are significant enough to really generate a conversation,” said Womack.